Broughton Archipelago Park, B.C.’s largest marine park, consists of a wonderful collection of dozens of undeveloped islands and islets situated at the mouth of Knight Inlet on the west side of Queen Charlotte Strait near the north end of Vancouver Island.
Established in 1992, Broughton Archipelago Park offers excellent boating, kayaking and wildlife viewing opportunities. A multitude of islands provides park visitors sheltered waters and anchorages with a backdrop of the magnificent coastal mountains to the east and the waters of Queen Charlotte Strait to the west. These islands have been utilized by First Nation peoples for generations and there is ample evidence of their extensive use of the area. Kayakers and boaters can easily “discover” white midden beaches, culturally modified trees, clam “terraces” and even a petroglyph while exploring the park.
This park is extremely popular with sea kayakers from around the world. Most kayakers prefer the southern portion of the park, though increasing numbers are starting to discover the beauty of the northern islands and their protected waterways.
Please remember to practice “ Leave No Trace” ethics when visiting this park.
There are no designated campsites in the Broughton Archipelago, however there are a number of sites that kayakers have been using for overnight camping. These sites are open all year but only accessible by boat and some are only accessible during certain tides and weather conditions. There are no facilities provided at any of these sites aside from simple open air pit toilets on Owl Island and Leone Island.
Most of these wilderness sites are only big enough for one or two tents and range from flat rock outcroppings to a level bench situated amongst the trees. Since fresh water is very difficult to come across, be sure to bring all that you require. Remember to practice “Leave No Trace” camping methods to help ensure that those who follow you also get the opportunity to enjoy an unspoiled wilderness experience.
Simple open air pit toilets are located on Owl Island (on the northeast side) and on Leone Island (northwest corner). No toilet paper is provided.
This park does not have a boat launch. The nearest boat launches are located at Telegraph Cove, Alder Bay, Port McNeill, Alert Bay, Sointula, Beaver Cove and Port Hardy.
The protected waters of the Broughton Archipelago are still relatively undiscovered by most power cruisers or sailing vessels, however many of the waterways provide deep enough draught to allow the passage of larger watercraft. These vessels can find all-weather anchorages as well as temporary anchorages, however there are no formal moorage buoys within the park. Yachters can spend several days or longer meandering through the islands of this spectacular marine park.
While small fires are allowed, we encourage visitors to conserve the environment by minimizing the use of fire and using stoves instead. If you do have a fire, please utilize previously constructed fire rings and use small pieces of wood that will burn completely. If you can’t find a previously used site, try to construct your fire rings below the high tide mark. Never leave your fire unattended and practice “ Leave No Trace” camping ethics.
The many small islands and protected waters of Broughton Archipelago Park make the area an excellent place to sea kayak or canoe. Visitors from around the world come here to kayak amongst orcas and other marine mammals, experience camping in an unspoiled wilderness, enjoy world class salt water fishing and learn about First Nations culture. The southern portion of the park is the most popular, particularly in Village Channel and Indian Channel, however the rest of the park also offers excellent kayaking waters. Kayakers can enjoy the tranquil beauty of this area as they pick their way through a myriad of islands and islets, stopping to camp at various locations along the way.
Most kayakers launch at Telegraph Cove or Alder Bay, though the use of water taxis is becoming more and more popular as a method of quickly reaching the park. There are many commercial kayaking companies working in and around the park and the use of commercial mother-ships is becoming more common. Kayakers should be aware that winds can pick up quickly in this area, as can rough water, so mariners should always practice caution.
Kayakers should always take the ebb and flow of tides into consideration and be prepared for heavy fog at any time.
Paddlers who put in at Alder Bay or Telegraph Cove should remember that these are extremely busy shipping lanes and should time their crossings with extreme caution.
Saltwater fishing is extremely popular in this marine park, particularly for salmon, although rockfish and halibut can also be caught. There are also some excellent crabbing and prawning grounds in the park.
All anglers should check the current regulations issued by Fisheries and Oceans Canada prior to fishing. Anyone fishing or angling in British Columbia must have an appropriate licence.
Rockfish Conservation Areas occur within this park. Fishing activities are limited in Rockfish Conservation Areas. Before you go fishing please refer to the Rockfish Conservation Area descriptions available from Fisheries and Oceans Canada DFO.
Pets/domestic animals must be on a leash at all times and are not allowed in beach areas or park buildings. You are responsible for their behaviour and must dispose of their excrement.
This park is open year-round; there is no fee for winter camping.
Broughton Archipelago Park is accessible by boat, only. The park is situated approximately 30 km east of Port McNeill, near the mouth of Knight Inlet. Port McNeill, known as the gateway community to the Broughton Archipelago, is located near the northern tip of Vancouver Island – approximately a four hour drive north of Nanaimo. Boat launches are located in Port McNeill, Telegraph Cove and Port Hardy. Water taxis, boat charters and sea kayak rentals are also readily available. Boaters can reference marine chart #3545 (Johnstone Strait) #3546 (Broughton Strait) and #3515 (Knight Inlet) for more information on this area.
This park was established on September 16, 1992 as a result of B.C.’s Protected Areas Strategy.
Broughton Archipelago Park has a rich cultural heritage. The area’s sheltered waters and rich ocean life was the breadbasket for a number of First Nation peoples who developed clam terraces and villages in the area. The remains of these are still visible today. Park visitors can easily see the large clam and mussel shell deposits that make up the midden sites and the experienced eye may spot culturally modified trees (CMTs) or the park’s petroglyph, located on a rock wall on the north side of Berry Island. Near the petroglyph you will see a rock formation known as the “Chief’s Bathtub”, which is a natural rock basin that fills at high tide. Folklore has it that the local native chief would bath in this rock basin in water that been warmed with hot stones taken from a nearby fire.
In the late 19th century and early 20th century, this area saw some settlement by Europeans and there are still signs of their activities and presence, including overgrown homesteads.
Broughton Archipelago contains a rare combination or marine and terrestrial values, which makes a significant contribution to the Provincial Protected Area system. The park contains one of the most under-represented terrestrial ecosystems in the province - the Outer Fiordland Ecosection Coastal Western Hemlock very wet maritime submontane variant. Currently only 1.3% of this ecosystem is protected in BC. One of only three protected areas with this ecosection, the Broughton Archipelago contains 63% of the protected examples. This gives it a critical role in the system as a representative of the protected and exposed marine ecosystems.
Broughton Archipelago contains a number of unique natural values. Several species of marine mammals, including Orcas (killer whales), harbour seals, harbour porpoises, sea lions and sea otters utilize habitats found in this Protected Area.
River otters, mink and raccoons can often be seen playing along the shoreline, coastal black-tailed deer are commonplace on these islands, and black bears can occasionally be spotted rolling boulders on the shore in search of food. Bald eagles are common within the park boundaries as are many other seabirds, such as Harlequin ducks, cormorants and Great Blue Herons. Most species of salmon can be also found in the area.
For those wishing to view Orcas in their natural habitat, the best opportunities within this park are along its western boundaries. Boaters or kayakers frequenting this area may also see Humpback or Minke whales. Smaller species like porpoises and dolphins may also be seen throughout the park, and there are several sea lion haul-outs within the Broughton Archipelago’s boundaries.
Many of these species are easily disturbed by the close proximity of kayaks and other vessels. As a general rule of thumb, vessels should not approach closer than 100 metres to these wildlife species. With seals and sea lions on shore, vessel operators should ensure they do not force the animal into the water. Every time a sea lion or seal is forced into the water it loses body temperature and energy; repeated incidents can endanger the animals’ health.
When in the vicinity of seals and sea lions basking on shore, vessel operators should be very aware of the state of the animals’ behaviour. If the animals seem agitated or disturbed (rocking back and forth, making growling or barking sounds) back your vessel away and leave.
BC Parks honours Indigenous Peoples’ connection to the land and respects the importance of their diverse teachings, traditions, and practices within these territories. This park webpage may not adequately represent the full history of this park and the connection of Indigenous Peoples to this land. We are working in partnership with Indigenous Peoples to update our websites so that they better reflect the history and cultures of these special places.